Luxurious and Laid-back

Visitors can explore the Lanai wil­derness prized by hunters and fish­ermen, divers and sailors. They can dine famously at the hotel restaurants, which feature gourmet dishes made with fresh produce and venison from Lanai. They can enjoy evening en­tertainment by local musicians and dancers or visiting international art­ists, chefs and lecturers who make scheduled appearances throughout the year as part of Lanai’s Visiting Artist Program.

The people of Lanai enjoy a quiet plantation lifestyle that is rapidly van­ishing elsewhere throughout Hawai’i. Even today, the island remains se­rene and secluded.

Lanai is a short flight from Hono­lulu International Airport via IslandAir or Hawaiian Air. Four-wheel-drives and other rental vehicles are avail­able through the hotels and at Lanai City Service. Shuttles link the resorts, airport, town and Hulopo’e Bay.

There is another way to see Lanai: From the sea, the way the ancient Hawaiians found it. The island pre­sents a vista of sheer volcanic cliffs, white sand beaches, a shipwreck stuck on a coral reef, pocket coves and pinnacle rock islets. A small pas­senger ferry and a variety of sailboats make a daily trip to Lanai from Lahaina on neighboring Maui.

All boats anchor at Manele Harbor, which is separated from Hulopo’e Beach Park by a lava rock promontory. Hulopo’e Beach, a cres­cent of golden sand with shady pic­nic tables, boasts clear waters that are excellent for snorkeling and swimming, and a lava tidepool big enough for kids to play in. It’s a nice walk out to the end to see Pu’upehe, nicknamed “Sweetheart Rock,” or to look for spinner dolphins.


Fun of All Sorts

Lanai has a wild beauty, and its open range and fields are ribboned with dirt tracks and trails that beckon to the adventurer. It’s an off-road kind of place. The low-profile buildings and bare minimum pavement quickly give way to wilderness, abandoned settlements and historic sites, wild game—small Axis deer, pheasants, mouflon sheep and turkeys—strange rock formations and petroglyphs etched into lava rocks by ancient art­ists.

This isn’t a Gilligan’s Island with waterfalls and lush jungle. Lanai, in Maui’s rain shadow, is dry-roasted around the lower edges. It’s cool and

misty on the slopes rising toward the peak of 3,366-foot Lanaihale, thanks to an unlikely crown of Cook Island pines planted long ago.

Tropical fruits and flowers grow mostly in the hotel gardens and the backyards of Lanai City. This tidy grid of modest tin-roofed cottages and outlying newer housing is home to the island’s 2,800 residents. Around Dole Park, the pine tree-bordered village square, weathered general stores cater to the multi-cultural populace with everything from cham­pagne to dried cuttlefish.

Hiking and riding paths lead up through the forests to the ridgetop and the Munro Trail, which mean­ders across the top of the island and opens to magnificent views of neigh­boring islands. Other activities and sights on Lanai include:

• Golf, including two champion­ship eighteen-hole resort courses and an executive putting layout. Jack Nicklaus’ seaside Challenge at Ma­nele course, which won accolades from Golf and Golf Digest magazines, offers provocative ravine hazards and stunning ocean views. The Experience at Koele, a Greg Norman/Ted Robinson design, takes advantage of the high-country panoramas and for­ests.

• Kaiolohia, more commonly known as Shipwreck Beach, a beach­comber’s windswept bonanza of sand, driftwood and debris, includ­ing the occasional glass fishing float. It’s named for the rusting Liberty ship wrecked on a reef offshore. A four-wheel drive vehicle is recommended, as much of the road is not paved. A hiking trail leads north to Polihua Beach ten miles away.

• Kanepu’u is the region where the spectacular Garden of the Gods is located—colorful and strangely eroded rocks that take on an eerie aura at sunrise and sunset. The road is unpaved but easily traversed by a four-wheel drive vehicle. On the way, it passes the Kanepu’u Nature Con­servancy Preserve of native dryland forest plants.

•Keomuku, an abandoned settle­ment with a picturesque old wooden Hawaiian church and cemetery. Keomuku began as a bustling 1890s sugar village and later became a

ranching community that failed. By the mid-1950s, it was a ghost town. It is reached via an unpaved road along the sandy shore of Lanai’s northeast coast.

• Kaunolu, the location of a de­serted pre-contact Hawaiian fishing village. Stone ruins of ancient house platforms, grave sites, shelters, a heiau platform and petroglyphs dot the area, which is accessible by four-wheel drive.

•Petroglyphs, including a detailed drawing of a double-hulled voyag­ing canoe, carved on huge boulders on a hillside above Palawai Basin. The rocks are visible on the rise about half a mile from the road to Hulopo’e Beach, near Lanai City. Dirt roads off the main road lead to the site.

Lanai is an unusual island. It sits at the heart of the Hawaiian chain yet it seems quite isolated from all other islands. When people return home after spending only a few days on Lanai, they say they feel as though they have been gone for weeks. This may be Lanai’s most compelling vir­tue—the reason many regard it as the ultimate escape.

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